Falcons practice notebook

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Four Falcons players are seriously vying for a starting linebacker spot, and there only three positions to fill.

While Mike Peterson and Curtis Lofton seem likely to retain their starting positions, Stephen Nicholas has been battling rookie Sean Weatherspoon for a starting spot at outside linebacker.

Weatherspoon has started the first three exhibition games -- at weakside against Kansas City and at strongside against New England and Miami -- but coach Mike Smith said Tuesday he still hasn't decided if Weatherspoon will start in the season opener at Pittsburgh on Sept. 12.

Nicholas, who started last season beside Peterson and Lofton, said he's trying to focus on football and not worry much about who's on the field when the game begins.

"Going into it, I just go out and work hard and do what I have to do to get better, as far as looking out for a starting position," Nicholas said. "What I do is I go out, work hard and work on Stephen Nicholas. From there, the coaches, everybody else will make those kinds of decisions."

Meanwhile, Weatherspoon is taking much the same approach, seeing himself as the upstart rookie trying to earn playing time and taking what he can get.

"I haven't been told anything. I just go out here each and every day and wait for somebody tell me when to go in," Weatherspoon said. "If [linebackers] coach [Glenn] Pires tells me to go with the first group, then I'm ecstatic about that and I run out there."

Cutting down

Tuesday was the deadline for NFL teams to trim their rosters to 75 players, and the Falcons began the day with 77 on their roster.

To meet the required number, the Falcons cut safety Matt Giordano and defensive tackle Thomas Johnson. Giordano got an injury settlement. Johnson was limited by an Achilles injury this summer.

The Falcons signed Giordano in March after he spent 2009 with the Packers. Johnson played in 13 games and started 10 last season for the Falcons, recording 27 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.

Jenkins on track

Wide receiver Michael Jenkins, who injured his shoulder during the "Friday Night Lights" scrimmage at North Gwinnett High School on Aug. 6, was doing light work at practice Tuesday, and coach Mike Smith said the timetable for his recovery of four to six weeks is looking on target.

"I think he's on track," Smith said. "You guys may have noticed, Mike was catching the ball, throwing the ball. I think that time frame we mentioned when the injury first occurred, I think we're still on schedule for that."

The team never has disclosed the extent of Jenkins' injury. If he misses six weeks, that potentially would have him ready for the Falcons' second game, at home against Arizona on Sept. 19.

Beer Man sits

For the third consecutive practice, defensive end Kroy Biermann did not participate.

Biermann, who leads the team in sacks and forced fumbles this preseason while playing as a backup lineman, could have a minor injury or a pain, but Smith has said he will not disclose injuries until he has to issue an NFL-mandated injury report Sept. 8, the Wednesday before the first game.